Solano County reaches grim COVID-19 milestone, still no regional mask mandate

(Graphic by Solano NewsNet)

Solano County’s top health officer is still resisting calls for a region-wide indoor mask mandate and other proactive steps toward combatting the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, even as new data shows the rate of infection, hospitalization and deaths attributed to the virus continues to climb.

New information released this week showed more than 40,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Solano County, with an additional 677 cases confirmed between last Friday evening and Monday afternoon.

The actual rate of positive cases is likely higher, since data is reported on a delay due to the methods used by officials in Solano County and elsewhere to confirm new cases.

For weeks, Solano County Public Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas has resisted calls for a mandate that would force customers and others in indoor public spaces to wear face masks. That lack of action prompted city officials in Benicia to implement an indoor mask mandate of their own; officials in Vallejo is debating a similar requirement this week.

Local hospitals are feeling the crunch of this inaction: Federal data cited by KCRA-TV (Channel 3) revealed NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield is quickly running out of available hospital bed space, including in its intensive care unit. Similar situations are playing out at hospitals operated by Kaiser Permanente, the television station reported.

In local media interviews, Dr. Matyas claims an indoor mask mandate would do little to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including the more-contagious “Delta variant.” Without citing specific evidence, Dr. Matyas claims the majority of people who become infected with COVID-19 are exposed at private gatherings, not in public, and those calling for an indoor mask mandate are doing so for political reasons.

But in other Bay Area counties, the week-over-week rate of infection slowed and, in some cases, even dropped once indoor mask mandates were rolled out, according to data published by the New York Times and reviewed by Solano NewsNet. San Francisco and Marin counties have seen a sharp decline in new infections since implementing an indoor mask mandate in early August. Solano County, on the other hand, has the highest seven-day average of new cases, with well over 100 new cases reported each day, the data shows.

This week, Solano County officials reported four new deaths attributed to COVID-19 infections. Those four cases included two individuals who had received a COVID-19 vaccine, which does not prevent infection.


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